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Featured Pakistan: The Archaeological Marvel

Arsalan

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Sirkap - Taxila:
The city of Sirkap dates back to around 180BC. It was built by the Greek King Demetrius and was the main city in the region. Most of the major archeology sites in Taxila are based around this city of Sirkap. It is considered as the World heritage site since 1980, The relics of Sirkap city lies few km away from the Taxila Museum. The area is mostly associated with Buddhism and its ruins but Sirkap city is suppose to be built by the Greco Bactrian king Demetrius.

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Road leading to the Archeological site of Sirkap

The word "Sirkap" means severed head, and is the name of the mythological demon that feasted on human flesh and killed the hero Rasalu, that was said to have lived on the site. It was the second city of Taxila after Bhir Mound site.

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Notice boards at the entrance of Sirkap

The city architect/design plan is based on the grid plan of a Greek architect, urban planner Hippodamus the city consists of one main avenue and fifteen perpendicular streets, covering a surface of around 1200x400 meters, with now ruined surrounding wall of 5–7 meters wide/thick and 4.8 kilometers long.

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Water hole/Well at the entrance of Sirkap

Sirkap flourished under various regimes, from the Greeks to the Parthians and finally the Kashanas, and only lost its importance after King Kanishka of the Kushan dynastry founded the nearby city of Sirsukh.

Sirkap was excavated in the early twentieth century under the leadership of the British archaeologist Sir John Marshall. Marshall employed many workers over the course of thirteen excavation seasons, and the result is the largest horizontal excavation of an urban site in all of South Asia.

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Sirkap - Taxila

Will cover some key structures at site in later posts.

NOTE: The information quoted above is taken from various online articles and sources together with what is available on site and information in Taxila Museum.
Pictures were taken by myself in 2013 (May 11 to be exact as i went there after casting my vote :P )


You people may also find this interesting.
@WAJsal @Joe Shearer






 

Kambojaric

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Bravo @Arsalan . Great pics and info! For any readers interested in Sirkap, I would definitely recommend 'The Historic City of Taxila' by Prof Ahmed Hassan Dani.

 

Kambojaric

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A really interesting site at Sirkap (Taxila) is the Jandial Temple, built according to Greek styles but apparently used as a Zoroastrian temple.

Jandial — a Zoroastrian temple in heart of Buddhist civilisation


Base of the column of sandstone placed in front of Jandial temple.
Taxila is known as the cradle of Buddhist civilisation, with numerous Buddhist sites. But few know that in heart of the great Buddhist civilisation there stands a Zoroastrian temple known as the Jandial Temple.

The Jandial temple dates back to 1st century BC, standing on an artificial mound, north of Sirkap City.


Fragments of column and pilasters made of sandstone built in front of Jandial temple.


Stairs leading to Jandial temple — a pure Greek style of architecture.

The resemblance of this temple to classical Greek temples is striking. The structure of the temple is in limestone and kanjur with plaster on the façade, patches of which are still intact. Kanjur is a porous form of sedimentary stone, used in Gandhara. Some large columns and pillars are constructed with massive blocks of sandstone.

Built in the Scythio-Parthian period, this is believed to be the temple described by Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana. According to A.G Lone, a former curator of Taxila Museum, Philostratus may have spoken of this temple when he says “They saw, a temple in front of the wall, about 100 feet in length and built of shell like stone. There were brazen tablets on which were portrayed the deeds of Porus and Alexander”.

Behind the main building is a set of stairs that leads to a platform where a Parthian fire Sanctuary probably existed in the 1st century BC.


The outer wall of Jandial temple. Having been built in 1st century BC, the wall still stands tall and strong.


A board erected at the site of Jandial temple welcomes visitors with information about the site both in English and Urdu.

Late veteran scholar and historian A.H. Dani, in his book ‘History of Civilisations of Central Asia’ notes that “the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple were shown from Jandial, said to have been built by the Indo-Parthians”.

Mahmoodul Hasan Shah, assistant director in the federal directorate-general of archaeology and museums, quoting Dr A.H. Dani, said: “The Jandial temple was found at the same place where Alexander the Great erected his tent.”

He said that the Greek rulers of Taxila performed religious ceremonies of their own faith at this temple.


The front view of Jandial temple.

____________________

It has been disputed whether the temple was only a fire temple or not, and the reality is that it was probably used by multiple groups. As Ehsan Yarshater writes in 'The Cambridge History of Iran'

As for the temple of Jandial near Taxila, in use from the 1st century BC onwards, the dispute as to whether it was a Zoroastrian or non-Zoroastrian fire temple (notwithstanding its Greek ground-plan and Greek coloumns) will in all probability be resolved when it is realised that both groups used it.
 

Arsalan

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A really interesting site at Sirkap (Taxila) is the Jandial Temple, built according to Greek styles but apparently used as a Zoroastrian temple.

Jandial — a Zoroastrian temple in heart of Buddhist civilisation


Base of the column of sandstone placed in front of Jandial temple.
Taxila is known as the cradle of Buddhist civilisation, with numerous Buddhist sites. But few know that in heart of the great Buddhist civilisation there stands a Zoroastrian temple known as the Jandial Temple.

The Jandial temple dates back to 1st century BC, standing on an artificial mound, north of Sirkap City.


Fragments of column and pilasters made of sandstone built in front of Jandial temple.


Stairs leading to Jandial temple — a pure Greek style of architecture.

The resemblance of this temple to classical Greek temples is striking. The structure of the temple is in limestone and kanjur with plaster on the façade, patches of which are still intact. Kanjur is a porous form of sedimentary stone, used in Gandhara. Some large columns and pillars are constructed with massive blocks of sandstone.

Built in the Scythio-Parthian period, this is believed to be the temple described by Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana. According to A.G Lone, a former curator of Taxila Museum, Philostratus may have spoken of this temple when he says “They saw, a temple in front of the wall, about 100 feet in length and built of shell like stone. There were brazen tablets on which were portrayed the deeds of Porus and Alexander”.

Behind the main building is a set of stairs that leads to a platform where a Parthian fire Sanctuary probably existed in the 1st century BC.


The outer wall of Jandial temple. Having been built in 1st century BC, the wall still stands tall and strong.


A board erected at the site of Jandial temple welcomes visitors with information about the site both in English and Urdu.

Late veteran scholar and historian A.H. Dani, in his book ‘History of Civilisations of Central Asia’ notes that “the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple were shown from Jandial, said to have been built by the Indo-Parthians”.

Mahmoodul Hasan Shah, assistant director in the federal directorate-general of archaeology and museums, quoting Dr A.H. Dani, said: “The Jandial temple was found at the same place where Alexander the Great erected his tent.”

He said that the Greek rulers of Taxila performed religious ceremonies of their own faith at this temple.


The front view of Jandial temple.

____________________

It has been disputed whether the temple was only a fire temple or not, and the reality is that it was probably used by multiple groups. As Ehsan Yarshater writes in 'The Cambridge History of Iran'
You took these pics?
You from ....... taxila??? :o:

And yes the article was a good one. Have been to the temple as well and it is a must visit if someone is into the archeology.

You can often Koreans and Chinese visiting these places in Taxila. May be we we should tag a few. :)

@Beast @cirr @Kiss_of_the_Dragon @siegecrossbow @Tiqiu @nang2 @ChineseTiger1986 @Chinese-Dragon @cnleio @wanglaokan

@Slav Defence @WAJsal @waz can you please move this to the Pakistan Tourism section?
 
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Kambojaric

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You took these pics?
You from ....... taxila??? :o:

And yes the article was a good one. Have been to the temple as well and it is a must visit if someone is into the archeology.
I wish they were mine man. The pics are from the article linked in the title (dawn). I am merely an avid fan of our history. Hopefully next time I come to Pak in November I can take a trip up to Taxila. There is so much to see in our country!

You can often Koreans and Chinese visiting these places in Taxila. May be we we should tag a few. :)

@Beast @cirr @Kiss_of_the_Dragon @siegecrossbow @Tiqiu @nang2 @ChineseTiger1986 @Chinese-Dragon @cnleio @wanglaokan

@Slav Defence @WAJsal @waz can you please move this to the Pakistan Tourism section?
Indeed, the Taxila (Gandhara) region has huge potential for tourism from East and South East Asia + Sri Lanka.

A thread I started a couple of months ago. We need to spread the word as much as possible especially since things seem to be calming down in the Post Zarb e Azb era.

https://defence.pk/threads/bhutan’s-monks-worship-at-mingora-monastery.430997/
 

Arsalan

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I wish they were mine man. The pics are from the article linked in the title (dawn). I am merely an avid fan of our history. Hopefully next time I come to Pak in November I can take a trip up to Taxila. There is so much to see in our country!



Indeed, the Taxila (Gandhara) region has huge potential for tourism from East and South East Asia + Sri Lanka.

A thread I started a couple of months ago. We need to spread the word as much as possible especially since things seem to be calming down in the Post Zarb e Azb era.

https://defence.pk/threads/bhutan’s-monks-worship-at-mingora-monastery.430997/
Well when you visit Pakistan and are planing to visit Taxila, you HAVE TO let me know!
I am not in Taxila anymore as we moved about two and a half years back but i was born and brought up there and will like to take this as an opportunity to visit my place again (though i do so every few months already :P)
Let me know and i will be happy to host you. :)
 

Kambojaric

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Well when you visit Pakistan and are planing to visit Taxila, you HAVE TO let me know!
I am not in Taxila anymore as we moved about two and a half years back but i was born and brought up there and will like to take this as an opportunity to visit my place again (though i do so every few months already :P)
Let me know and i will be happy to host you. :)
Thanks for the offer! I will most certainly let you know if my road leads up north. Hopefully those never ending pesky 'rishtedaars' will give this poor soul a chance to explore his country.
 

Arsalan

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Thanks for the offer! I will most certainly let you know if my road leads up north. Hopefully those never ending pesky 'rishtedaars' will give this poor soul a chance to explore his country.
Just run away :lol:
Will gather a few friends and you may call some of yours and lets explore those archaeology sites/ :)

ON topic: Will return with a few more pics and details of various structures of Sirkap.
 

Kambojaric

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Just run away :lol:
Will gather a few friends and you may call some of yours and lets explore those archaeology sites/ :)

ON topic: Will return with a few more pics and details of various structures of Sirkap.
If only it were that simple :lol:. Looking forward to the pics :tup:
 

Kambojaric

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Not about Pakistan specifically but relates to Pakistani people

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36788165

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First farmers had diverse origins, DNA shows


The new study analysed the genomes of early farmers from Iran's Zagros mountains

Analysis of DNA from some of the world's first farmers shows that they had surprisingly diverse origins.

Researchers compared the genomes of ancient Neolithic skeletons from across the Middle East, where farming began.

The results shed light on a debate over whether farming spread out from a single source in the region, or whether multiple farmer groups spread their technology across Eurasia.

The findings by an international team appear in the journal Science.

The switch from mobile hunting and gathering to the sedentary lifestyle of farming first occurred about 10,000 years ago in south-western Asia. After the last Ice Age, this new way of life spread rapidly across Eurasia, in one of the most important behavioural transitions in human history.

Analysis of DNA from ancient remains in Europe has established that farming spread via the mass migration of people, rather than adoption of new ideas by indigenous populations.

In the new study, researchers show that the DNA of early farmers who lived in the Zagros mountains of Iran was very different from that of the people who spread farming west from Turkey into Europe.

Despite the fact that both these groups inhabited the Fertile Crescent - a sickle-shaped zone stretching from the Nile Valley in the west to western Iran - they appear to have separated genetically between 46,000 and 77,000 years ago.

"Probably the biggest surprise news about this study is just how genetically different the eastern and western Fertile Crescent early farmers were," said co-author Mark Thomas, from University College London (UCL).



Co-author Dr Garrett Hellenthal, also from UCL, commented: "It had been widely assumed that these first farmers were from a single, genetically homogeneous population. However, we've found that there were deep genetic differences in these early farming populations, indicating very distinct ancestries."

The DNA of the Zagros mountains farmers most closely resembled that of living people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran - and Iranian Zoroastrians in particular. Zoroastrians are the people who practise an ancient pre-Islamic religion of present-day Iran.

The present-day population whose genomes most closely resemble those of the western farmers is found not in the Middle East, but on the Italian island of Sardinia.

This reveals the scale of genetic change in the Fertile Crescent since the Neolithic. After the invention of agriculture, divergent groups of Middle Eastern farmers mixed thoroughly, and the region received genetic inputs from populations residing in surrounding areas.

Mark Thomas believes the findings dovetail with an idea put forward by the Cambridge University researcher Marta Mirazón Lahr known as the Holocene Filter. This is the process by which hunting groups which were highly distinct from each other (often over relatively short geographic distances) were reshaped by extinction and migration in the last 10,000 years.

As a consequence human diversity was lost due to the differential expansion of a few populations.

Discussing what the study said about the origins of farming, Dr Thomas told BBC News: "From the archaeology we know that different species were domesticated in different locations around the Fertile Crescent with no particular centre.



"So either we've got different species being domesticated in different locations and then spreading in something like a free trade zone. Or we've got independent domestications in different regions. But that doesn't work for some species - cattle, for example.

"Cattle were domesticated from a very small number of animals - about 100 or so. It's difficult to marry that with the idea that they were domesticated on multiple occasions."

Prof Thomas said it could be seen as a "federal" origin of farming: "Different and genetically distinct populations were all engaged in this same general project, albeit exchanging ideas with each or other or sometimes coming up with the same idea independently."

Interestingly, what the early farmer populations do share is ancestry from an enigmatic group of humans known as Basal Eurasians. After humans left Africa, this population split away from other non-Africans and somehow interbred less with Neanderthals. But it's unclear where exactly these ancient people resided until they mixed with the ancestors of the farmers.

"Maybe they were hiding somewhere in North Africa, maybe they were hiding in the Middle East - somewhere with fewer Neanderthals. We just don't know," said Prof Thomas.

Basal Eurasians are often referred to as a "ghost population", as they are only inferred from genetic data through their ancestral contribution to other human groups like the first Middle Eastern farmers - and by extension modern human groups from India to western Europe.
 

Kambojaric

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Unesco body gives govt one more year to ensure protection of Makli necropolis

THATTA: The world heritage committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in its recently concluded conference in Istanbul expressed serious concern over the fast crumbling Ramsar Site, the Makli necropolis, mainly due to neglect and unchecked encroachment.

The meeting discussed the option of putting the world’s second largest historical necropolis on the list of ‘endangered world heritage sites’. However, it granted the government of Pakistan one year’s time to take appropriate measures to avoid such an action.

This was revealed by sources privy to the conference while speaking to this reporter here on Wednesday.

The conference began on July 10 and concluded on July 20. It was attended by over 1,500 delegates from around the world.

Former director general of the Sindh Archaeology department Qasim Ali Qasim also attended the conference as consultant on behalf of the department. He told this reporter that Pakistan’s arguments regarding its capacity to protect, preserve and maintain the heritage site were heard and after a debate, the committee agreed to extend the time, to take appropriate and effective measures for the protection and preservation of the site, by another year.

Sources in the Sindh government suggested that the provincial Minister for Culture, Tourism and Archaeology, Syed Sardar Ali Shah, took notice of the Unesco committee’s concern.

Presiding over a meeting of the officials concerned a few days ago, he called for stern action against the elements that had encroached upon of the land of the Makli necropolis and damaged to taken away the rare properties belonging to it.

The minister, according to the sources, asked the secretary concerned to mobilise the police force, administration and all other available resources to ensure protect of the world heritage site. He ordered removal of all encroachments and dislodging of unauthorised people from the necropolis.

A participant in the meeting quoted the minister as telling the officials that enlistment of the necropolis as the ‘endangered world heritage site’ would earn a bad name to Pakistan.

He said that being an engineer by profession, he was well versed with the protection, rehabilitation and preservation of historical monuments and fully realised the significance of such sites. He warned the curators and other officials against showing negligence or slackness in the fair discharge of their duties. He said the ministry had to accomplish the task assigned to it within the grace period.

The Makli necropolis is spread over an area of nine square kilometres. It has thousands of mausoleums and graves, built with carved stones, of the rulers, soldiers, prominent personalties and other people belonging to five dynasties -- Samma 1350-1521, Arghuns 1521-1551, Turkhan 1551-1599, Mughals 1599-1729 and Kalhoras 1729-1782.

According to eminent historian and a former director general of the culture and archaeology department Dr Mohammed Ali Manjhi, the Makli necropolis originally had more than 125,000 mausoleums and graves but a large number of them vanished owing to neglect, theft of priced carved stones and encroachment of its lands, besides weather-related damage.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1275231/un...year-to-ensure-protection-of-makli-necropolis

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Hopefully the new Sindh Chief Minister will do something to preserve this world heritage site. Makli has been the traditional burial grounds of Sindhs royalty. The Samma dynasty in the 1300s began the tradition and successive dynasties such as the Arghun and Tarkhans continued it. All of them built impressive tombs and mausoleums. Some pictures below

















Source:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/143
 

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